I find that first reactions are usually the most honest, if not the most complimentary. And, they tend to be more accurate than those which have had time for the march of days and rational thought to erode the sharp edges.
I recently read an entry on social media about a person looking for happiness by pursuing a dream. It felt like someone waxing poetic about an impending natural disaster while under the influence of a narcotic.
I am not surprised. I am not shocked, nor disgusted, nor elated. I think the best way to describe my interpretation is to compare it to watching someone traverse a deep crevasse on a shaky bridge, without knowing what waits on the other side. I am both doubtful about their ability to complete the journey safely, and uncertain whether the risk will reap the expected rewards. However, it is an exciting and invigorating — for want of a better word — adventure. Perhaps that trivializes what they are feeling right now, which I regret. Those feelings in me have long since been squelched by age and experience, but somewhere deep down in the essence of my being, there is a spark that knows … and understands … and yes, envies them.
Let me say right now that I neither disapprove nor do I approve. I have no right or position to condemn or absolve.
I honestly believe we create our own paradise and our own hell. We are not only ultimately responsible for our own happiness, but solely the cause or destruction of it. In essence, no matter how we cling to others, be it for support, validation, companionship, even love, we are individually alone. Each life’s odyssey from birth to death, while crossing the paths of many others, is a unique experience.
This begs the age old questions, as yet definitively unanswered, do we deserve to be happy at any cost? Do we ‘deserve’ anything at all? Or, do we simply get what circumstance and serendipity bring us? Throughout our lives we are presented with many opportunities for personal gain – materially, spiritually, or emotionally. Some act with reckless abandon, grasping at every brass ring on the merry-go-round, regardless of who they push to the ground to get the prize. Others cower in the corner, fearful that every sheep is really a costumed wolf and that each minor success brings disastrous consequences. Most of us simply snipe* at opportunity. Hedonist or saint, hermit or martyr, the answer to what we should do is always clouded by what we can do. [I think I just took a little side trip on the stream of consciousness train there].
* Snipe: To shoot at individuals as opportunity offers from a concealed or distant position. To attack anonymously from a safe distance.
I don’t trust happiness. Happiness is the Holy Grail … a prize and a secret, a gift and target. I think it is as elusive as a unicorn [and as mythical], as camouflaged as a chameleon and as ethereal as Jacob Marley’s ghost — if it comes in a person’s lifetime, it comes only once, stays only briefly and when it disappears, changes everything from that point forward.
While I doubt I could be a source of any useful insight or advice, I promise you three things. If things turn out well, I won’t rain on the proverbial parade with premonitions of gloom and dire consequences. If things do not go so well, I will not wag a single finger nor proffer a chorus of “I told you so.” If they are serving chipped beef at the luncheonette, I’ll be having the soup.